So you have decided that leg training should be part of your routine having forgone the weekly torture that is an hour under the squat rack?! Good choice, leg training won’t just build muscles in the lower half of your body it will create a lot of stress of the CNS which will cause a reaction to occur. That isn’t today’s point though, building a head turning pair of legs is. If you have taken the plunge good on you but that’s only half the battle. A lot of people in your position think a few sets on the leg extension and leg curl machines supplemented with some leg pressing is the key to muscular legs. There is a lot more to it than that!
Squatting is king where leg development is concerned, if done right. With a full range of motion (ROM) you will stimulate a large percentage of muscle fibres within the quads, glutes and hamstrings. It will allow you to excite HTMUs (high threshold motor units) which in turn will allow for much better muscle fibre recruitment and in turn stimulation/potential growth. Starting a workout with dynamic squats, using a 2 second pause at the bottom followed by an explosive drive to the top for 2-4 reps with 50% of your 1RM is a great way to start your workout. After 3-4 sets of this hit 3-4 heavy sets for 3-5 reps to a near point of failure.
Glute Ham Raises
If squats are the king of leg development these beauties are the Queen (King of hamstring growth!!). GHRs heavily outperform leg curls for hamstring development and after your first set you will see why. Utilise 4-5 working sets with a rep range of 3-5 because we know that hamstrings are predominately fast twitch based making them especially responsive to low rep heavy lifting.
If you kick your leg workouts off like this then you can bet your HTMUs are bouncing which means a lot of the work is done, your anabolic hormones are also in overdrive. Now it is time to guide your muscles into a further state of stimulation with clever muscle hypnotherapy (joke!). Using high reps to force large volumes of blood into the area is the goal now and by doing so you will also target more of the slow twitch muscle fibre populations. Use leg extensions, leg press, Bulgarian split squats, lunges and body weight squats with rep ranges of 15+ to do the work from here. This is a case of short rest periods, constant tension for as much as you can take, forget weight now.
Enjoy the session, this is just the start!